Takoyaki: But Make it Vegan
But how do you do that?
An octopus stuffed, egg dumpling, and popular Japanese street food, to put it simply. that’s takoyaki.
These delectable, and fluffy round dumplings were invented and popularized by a street vendor in 1935 in Osaka, by the name Tomekichi Endo.
Usually flavored with onion and ginger, these fluffy octopus filled dumplings were inspired by a traditional beef dumpling of Akashi.
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 What can you use to make takoyaki vegan?
- 2 How do you make vegan Takoyaki?
- 3 Vegan takoyaki with shiitake mushrooms
- 4 Helpful Hacks and Tips
- 5 Vegan Takoyaki People will Tak-o-bout
- 6 Conclusion
What can you use to make takoyaki vegan?
With a dumpling whose main source of substance is octopus, many non-meat eaters might be deterred without seeking an alternative. Luckily for vegan and vegetarians alike, there are multiple substitutions to make this traditional Japanese dish meat-free.
- Shiitake mushrooms – a similar texture to octopus, and a nutritious replacement
- tofu – a regular vegan staple, and a great alternative in Takoyaki
- Takoyaki sauce without honey
- Vegetarian dashi stock, or konbu granules if you have difficulty finding the meat-free stock
- Okara and chickpea flours will also maintain the traditional flavor pallet while adding more nutrition to this meat-free variation
Why is traditional takoyaki not vegan?
Things to look out for when making takoyaki and wanting to make it completely vegan are:
- normal dashi has katsuobushi in it so you’ll need a vegan dashi option like one of these we wrote about here
- using the easy and ready-made takoyaki batter or takoyaki flour has dashi already in it so you should avoid using those
- the batter has egg in it so you should avoid it or replace it (we’ve added a little bit of apple cider vinegar but you can also add some oil if the batter keeps sticking to your pan)
- traditionally there’s octopus in it but that’s easy to substitute
- the toppings are sauce most often with honey and katsuobushi in it, there are usually katusobushi flakes on it which are fish shavings, and often the furikake seaweed flakes you add also have some fish in it like salmon (but there are a lot of vegan options)
How do you make vegan Takoyaki?
To make Takoyaki, getting that distinguishable round shape is considered necessary, but for this dish, the flavor isn’t sacrificed because the shape isn’t just right.
You can use a Japanese Takoyaki pan or use a Dutch pancake pan as a great alternative. Once you have the proper equipment, it’s as easy as following this recipe:
Vegan takoyaki with shiitake mushrooms
- 1¼ cup vegan dashi stock
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup shiitake mushrooms fresh
- 1 green onion
- pickled ginger
- vegan sauces read more below
- nori seaweed or vegan furikake
- Combine 1 1/4 cup of dashi stock and the apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of flour and mix until frothy.
- After whisking until thoroughly combined, heat your pan and oil each hole.
- Fill each hole until about 80% full, and top with cubed shiitake mushrooms, onion, and pickled ginger. Cover with remaining batter.
- Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, trimming off excess batter and flipping them with a 90-degree flick of the wrist.
- Continue to flip until golden brown, remove from heat, and serve coated with your favorite vegan sauce and/ or seaweeds.
Helpful Hacks and Tips
- If using Takoyaki flour, substitute water for dashi stock
- No oil brushes – No problem! use a scrunched paper towel instead to coat the pan evenly
- continuous flipping will make the outsides crispy
- bonito flakes and seaweed aren’t mandatory, Takoyaki can be just as tasty without these toppings
Pro-Tip: when using shiitake mushrooms chop small and season or use dehydrated bits. Boil and soak dehydrated mushrooms in your dashi stock for thirty minutes to let them absorb the desired flavor and create a similar chewy texture to the original octopus’ variation.
Meat-Free Meat Seasoning
Season your shiitakes, tofu, or veggie filling with a variety of spices to add depth and more flavor to your Japanese dumplings. Typically made with seafood, a hint of lemon and old bay are popular choices to flavoring the stuffed center.
Sauce up Your Vegan Takoyaki
Condiments and oriental sauces are a huge part of the deliciousness of Asian-style food. Even if you’re enjoying a meat-free or entirely vegan diet, you can still enjoy Takoyaki and make it extra legendary with a delectable dipping sauce. Here are a few great options to try:
- So-Su – 1T vegan Worcestershire sauce, a dash of tomato puree or sauce, Dijon mustard, onion powder, and mirin. Thicken it to your desired consistency with potato starch or a little kuzu
- Vegan Mayo – simple, easy, satisfying! top it with scallions and pickled ginger for an easy go-to
- Okonomi Sauce
- Homemade Japanese Vegan Mayo – 2T rice vinegar, 1/2 T sugar, and half a cup of your favorite vegan mayo makes a delectable sauce
Vegan Takoyaki People will Tak-o-bout
Get creative with your oil, sauce and toppings to really make your version legendary.
Canola, vegetable, sesame, and coconut oil are popular choices, and toppings are infinite!
Green scallions, pickled ginger, and tempura are the typical standard, but make them different each time with different toppings sprinkled on top.
- nori flakes
- seaweed flakes
- sesame seeds
- red pepper flakes
- Dijon mustard
- coconut shaving or flakes
- chopped celery or carrot
- smoked paprika
- chia seeds
- fried rice noodles
With so much potential and one distinguishing feature, Takoyaki can be modified again and again so the round fluffy dumplings can be enjoyed appeasing any diet, even vegan.
With substitutions like tofu and shiitake mushrooms, their flavors can be manipulated to be exactly what the chef is aiming for: octopus.
A huge misconception about vegan diets is that they often lack flavor and depth. Vegan substitutes can be just as tasty and offer greater opportunity for creativity in the kitchen.
Even if you enjoy meat, try making this meat-free Takoyaki and your tastebuds might just take you to the streets of Osaka.
No sacrificing of flavor is required, as you can stuff it how you like, and cover and dip it just the same, all meat and animal byproduct free.